News / Europe

Kerry Likely to Discuss Israeli-Turkish Ties, Syria While in Turkey

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
Dorian Jones
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Turkey this weekend as part of a trip the region.  Syria is expected to be high on the agenda, as well as the ongoing efforts to mend relations between Turkey and Israel.
 
According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Kerry will be seeking to build on the current rapprochement efforts between two key U.S. allies.

"By going to Istanbul first then going onto Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization and work well together," said Nuland.
 
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted an apology from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for the 2010 killings by Israeli commandos of nine Turks aboard a ship seeking to break Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza. Israel has also agreed to pay compensation to the victims' families.

Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.


For its part, Ankara has agreed to take steps to unfreeze diplomatic relations - a process observers say Secretary Kerry will be looking to expedite.

Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, warns rapprochement efforts will not be easy.
 
"There won't be much love in this relationship, because I think from the Israeli perspective, they look at the present government as Islamic and fundamentalist, and, on the other hand, from the Turkish, Erdogan and AKP [Turkey's ruling party] perspective, they look on Israel as oppressors of the Palestinians and generally as anti-Islamic and all that. But then there is practicality of the issue vis-a-vis Syria forcing them [to] push this ideological orientation to the background because the situation on the ground requires them to do so," said Idiz.

Idiz points out that the governments of Israel and Turkey, both of which share a border with Syria, have called for international intervention in the Syrian conflict.  Soli Ozel,  a lecturer at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, points out Ankara’s strong support for the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad means there is the potential for Turkey and Israel to work closely together.

"Turkey has already insinuated itself in the Syrian matter and it wishes itself to be in the forefront, and to make sure the new regime in Syria is not one that is detrimental to Israeli security concerns or even Turkish security concerns. I think these two can cooperate. Whether they will cooperate operationally, I don’t know yet; it depends how long this goes on," said Ozel.

Syria is expected to be a key issue in Kerry’s talks with his Turkish counterpart. Ankara is likely to press for arming the Syrian opposition.  Reviving the stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel is also likely to be on his agenda during his visit to Istanbul.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says the thawing of relations between Turkey and Israel makes it possible for Ankara to play a positive role in those efforts.
 
"Now [that] it’s [Turkey] talking to all sides, there is a potential for Turkey to play a role," he said. "And I think Israel will want this, because Turkey can use its moderating influence on Hamas, for example."

The Turkish government has close ties with the Hamas leadership. But international relations expert Ozel warns those close ties means the current rapprochement efforts between Turkey and Israel is vulnerable to any major outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
"Let's not say hostage, but dependent on what goes on in the West Bank, they [Turkey's leaders] cannot turn their back to the Palestinians if or maybe when the third intifada erupts," he said. "If there is an intifada and the Israelis brutally suppress [it], it's going to be very difficult for the Turkish government to maintain its relations [with Israel]."

But Ozel points out there are also powerful economic considerations that could drive rapprochement efforts between Israel and Turkey. Israel is reported to be looking at Turkey as a route for distributing newly discovered natural gas to the lucrative European market. That fits well with Ankara’s bid to become an energy hub to the region - something observers say Kerry will be keen to point out during his visit to Istanbul.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More